I love how Bangalore has become the hub of some great international food and beverage event in the last couple of weeks. We have the Master Chefs in town in this weekend of June 2016, but this past week also saw a legendary event. World Class is a celebration of the craft of bartending – and the industry’s biggest and most prestigious bartending competition. Its 7th Edition this year, Diageo Reserve World Class is transforming the experience of fine drinks and cocktail culture – and with this competition year on year is bringing in talented mixologists and bartenders into the industry. This year saw the International Brand Ambassadors of Diageo training and mentoring 200+ bartenders on their Reserve portfolio as well as modules like global cocktail trends, drinks inspirations and art of service. And amidst the trainees, top 20 were selected to compete on 1st June 2016, to battle it out to be India’s World Class Bartender of the Year 2016. The winner would then represent India at the Diageo World Class Global finals that would be held at Miami, USA in September 2016 alongside the best bartenders from 50+ other countries. Whoa, quite a Master Chef Competition equivalent for the Bartenders eh?
The event spanned across the whole day – held at the gorgeous rooftop venue of Hype at Shangri-La. There were various levels of competition, and the top 20 bartenders were judged by an expert panel consisting of Feroze Merchant, Head of Luxury, USL Diageo, Nicholas Ord, USL Diageo Reserve Brand Ambassador, Jamie Walker, USL Diageo Reserve Brand Ambassador, Serhan Kusakisizoglu, Director of Corporate Projects, Shangri La, Nicole Faria, ex Miss Earth 2010 and Chef Manu Chandra. The contestants were judged on the basis of three rounds – The Pantry Round, The Speed Round and The Mystery Box Round – with the luxury spirits from the Diageo Reserve portfolio being used for the cocktails. While the rains were a bit of damper, the show went on! At one point, the music and mics were turned off due to the heavy rains in the rooftop venue, but the audience gathered close to cheer for the favorites as the competition waged on. The top 3 finalists were Jitender Singh, Vikram Ku and Dilbar Singh, and finally Jitender emerged victorious in this battle of the finest, receiving the title of the India Bartender of the Year at Diageo Reserve World Class 2016. Jitender Singh , from Story, Gurgaon will now compete in Miami for the global finals representing India.
The evening went on to have a full out chic and vibrant party at Hype, which the rains didn’t deter as well. Daniel Jones, Jamie Walker, Maxime Grivel – the Diageo Reserve Brand Ambassadors took over the bar, mixing up some fabulous cocktails, as well as serving some great spirits from the Reserve Collection. The food and the drinks AND the service was exemplary, and that’s no mean feat given the number of people. The Skye Chai was a sensational cocktail with Talisker, jaggery syrup and chai – an elegant drink – and my choice to begin the evening. The Thai Me Up that came next was a straight up vodka martini. The cocktails only got better – a tropical number that I don’t recall the name – but was Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve with almond syrup, fresh citrus and mango juice – a splurge of fruitiness with the old school whiskey. And delicious finger food was being passed around, perfect to munch on in the aftermath of some crazy rains! The venue is just glorious.